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My Dad’s Bridge Column

My father was, among other things, a life master at Contract Bridge.  He told me once that, on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he was sitting in his medical office dealing Bridge hands to himself, because he'd only opened the practice two months before and he hadn't any patients yet.  The radio was on, and that's when he heard the news.  He taught me to play — twice, actually, as I wasn't a quick learner for card games.  Only once did I ever play against him and my mother when they were teamed up; they blew me and my partner out of the water.  It wasn't even a serious contest.

From roughly 1967 to 1971 (when he was 31-36 years old) he wrote a Bridge column (sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly) for the Southfield News, called simply "Bridge Hand".  These were about 500 words each, and I think he must have dealt out random hands and made up stories about how they would go.  Often he created characters, and he loved being snarky when describing the play.  Some of them included quizzes on bidding, with answers and explanations provided.

My dad died in 1992, my mom in 2014.  When my mother got sick, she gave me a collection of clippings of "Bridge Hand".  I haven't touched them since I got them (must be at least five years ago), but just today I started sorting and cataloguing.  There are probably well over 100 of them in the collection.  Most of them are labeled with the date — usually in my mother's handwriting, sometimes in another hand (could be my grandmother, I'm not sure, but never in my dad's).

Here's one of the columns in its original form.  "Reputation," September 18, 1969:

Reputation 18 Sep 1969 Cropped

And here's a different one, that I transcribed:

Support for Cindy

(April 7, 1971)

So after Cinderella and her Prince were wed, she buried the hatchet with her step sisters and the four of them sat down to play a little bridge; Cindy was South and her groom was North; his step-sisters-in-law (sic) sat East-West; then the fun began…


  7 3

♥   K Q

K 9 8 7 6 5 3 2

♣   6



9 8 5 2

♦   J 10 4

♣  A K 9 7 3


  K J

10 6


♣  Q J 10 5 4


  A Q 9 6 5 2

A J 7 4 3

8 2

Rubber bridge                         S          W        N         E

Both vulnerable                      1        pass     1 NT    pass

South deals                             2        pass     3        pass

                                             3        pass     4        all pass

OL: ♣K

Cindy and the Prince were playing one of those new-fangled systems in which no four-card majors are opened and a 1 NT answer to 1 of a major is a one-round force, thus Cindy's bidding absolutely showed a 6-5 distribution. Now, supposedly the Prince knew all that, so why in the world would he choose to support hearts is beyond me. . . just look at what happened:

West led two rounds of clubs and Cinderella ruffed the second round with the Q and hooked the Q; when this won, Cindy thought she had it made; she led a trump to the king, ruffed a small diamond and cashed A-J; but when she tried to cash the A, West ruffed in and forced out Cindy's last trump with a club lead; East-West then made the rest of the tricks for a cool down three; furthermore the step-sisters smashed the royal pair with a vulnerable grand slam on the next deal (because this is a fairy story and besides, I always did think that Cinderella and the Prince were just too goody-goody for words).

All right, all right, I know that Cinderella might've played the hand much better . . . but she couldn't play any better than her husband could bid; because the final contract should've been in four spades which, as you can see is colder than Golda Meir's attitude toward Beirut, declarer losing only a club and two trump against the obvious club opening.

Remember, gentle readers, even if you are not a prince . . . when you have two doubletons and your partner shows 6-5 support the six-card suit, even if your other doublet is A-K!

I'm trying to decide whether to post these — whether there'd be any interest (Bridge is a much less common game than it used to be, I think), and whether I'd need to clean them up.  (I nearly didn't type the line about Golda Meir and Beirut, for obvious reasons, but I decided to be faithful to the original, at least this time.)  If I posted them, it'd probably be about one per week, so it'd take me a few years to get through them.

What do you think?




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